This Is What Adoption Feels Like
Most domestic adoptions are at least "semi-open," meaning that at a
minimum, letters, photos, and other information are exchanged periodically
through an intermediary such as an agency. Adoptions that are more open involve
direct contact through letters, phone calls, and e-mails. And in fully open
adoptions, ongoing visits are common.
Costs for domestic adoption run the gamut. Some agency adoptions add up to
well over $30,000, while an "identified adoption" — in which the
prospective adoptive parents themselves locate the birth parents through
advertising and other outreach — can cost less than $10,000.
PROS: Domestic adoption gives you the greatest likelihood of bringing
home a newborn, an experience many families yearn for. You are also more likely
than with an international adoption to find out the birth family's medical
history — and to have a more open adoption.
CONS: Your wait for a placement can be anywhere from less than a
month to two years or more. Because the expectant parents usually choose the
adopting parents — a situation known as a "match" — there's no way to
know when you'll be selected. A survey found that 31 percent of families
experience at least one failed match because the mother or father decides to
parent the child; some agencies report that the rate of failed matches may be
higher. It's vital to remember that they have this right, and to be prepared
for the emotional upheaval of this possibility.
More than half a million children were in foster care in 2005. Of those, 52,000
were adopted, and 115,000 were waiting to be. Many of the remaining children
were awaiting possible reunification with their families. Adopting from foster
care usually means working with your state's department of child and family
services, but there are also private foster agencies, such as Casey Family
Services (caseyfamilyservices.org), an East Coast nonprofit.
PROS: Adopting from foster care can be much less costly than either
domestic or international adoption — in some cases, free. State agencies
usually don't charge fees for adoption from foster care, although some private
agencies do. And all states have adoption-assistance programs designed to help
parents recoup costs (such as legal fees) involved with adopting from foster
care. Find out more from the fact sheet "Adoption Assistance for Children
Adopted from Foster Care," available online (go to childwelfare.gov and
type the publication's title in the search box).